| BUENOS AIRES
BUENOS AIRES Oct 14 Argentina complained on
Friday about military exercises that Britain is planning this
month in the disputed Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
Argentina has for decades claimed sovereignty over the
British-run islands it calls the Malvinas and the dispute led to
a brief war in 1982. The overwhelming majority of the islands'
3,000 inhabitants say they want the islands to remain a British
Argentina's foreign ministry said in a statement that it had
sent a letter to the British ambassador demanding the country
call off the "illegitimate" exercises, which are scheduled for
Oct. 19-28 and include the launching of Rapier missiles.
A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Buenos Aires called
it a "routine exercise" that takes places about twice a year.
Argentina lodged its complaint just a month after the two
countries agreed to work together toward removing measures
restricting the oil and gas, shipping and fishing industries on
the remote islands.
Pro-business President Mauricio Macri has sought to improve
relations since taking over in December after diplomatic
tensions mounted under his predecessor, populist Cristina
But in a blunder that embarrassed the administration last
month, Macri claimed he and British Prime Minister Theresa May
had agreed, during a brief encounter at the United Nations
General Assembly, to discuss the sovereignty claim.
Argentina's Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra later walked
back the remarks after Britain denied that the issue of
sovereignty had come up.
In Friday's statement, the foreign ministry said it had
learned of the planned military exercises on Thursday. It said
the exercises "contradict the principle of peaceful conflict
resolution" and called the Falklands "Argentine territory
illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom."
In last month's agreement, the two sides also agreed to
establish additional flights between the Falklands, located
about 435 miles off the coast of southern Argentina, and third
countries in South America.
The last bout of serious tension over the Falklands occurred
in June last year when an Argentine federal judge ordered the
seizure of millions of dollars in assets owned by oil drillers
operating in the area.
(Additional reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi and Luc Cohen;
editing by Grant McCool)